Skip to main content
ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
3 1833 02398 9236
' iMSMl JM£ cSMBSSS lH2lMl
E&E-ly Days of tto Little Miami Yalley* -V
CINCINNATI, OHIO: \ ^,.~
Times Book and Ion Printing Establishment.
P* iV' ■■-■
-.._ :.-r \,r
f -_, gu ; ^^ ^^e ' ■•■-
tv - -„vi j-t;-.
9^55^1^^ " >j|§p<
FIRST BLOCK HOUSE AT COLUMBIA,
^\dDRE3$ OF ^O^ONEL tjK. I). JONE£,
TUBPIN'S aEOVE, ANDEKSON TOWNSHIP,
JULY 4th, 1878,
" Reminiscences of the Early Days of the Little Miami Valley."
Within the last year, by invitation, T had the honor of
addressing the citizens of this vicinity on a subject of great
interest, not only to the people of this country, but to the
inhabitants of every civilized nation; for upon the success-
ful pursuit of agriculture, as we endeavored to show on that
occasion, depends in a great measure the wealth, the power,
and permanent prosperity of every civilized people. It is the
fountain head from which flows all those cleme .its that com-
bine to make nations great, and by which all other branches
of industry that contribute to the happiness of mankind, are
These highly cultivated farms in this beautiful valley are
unmistakable evidences of the fact that you do not under-
estimate the importance of this great industry, and the com-
forts that surround the farmers prove that their labors have
not been in vain.
The subject upon which I have been requested to address
you to-day, "The Reminiscences of the Early Days of the
Little Miami Valley," may not be of so much interest to the
general public, but locally, the history of this valley must
ever be interesting, because of the circumstances under which
>t was settled, and because of the trials, hardships and perils
2 REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY DAYS
the pioneers passed through in transforming a wilderness into
the highly cultivated country of the present day.
It can not be expected, however, in the brief time allowed
on such an occasion as this, that more than a glance can be
taken of the more important events of its exploration and
early settlement; nor might it at first view seem to be a fitting
subject on this "National Day;" but, if I have read the his-
tory of the West correctly, the circumstances attending the
first settlement of this valley, as well as of all the territory
between the Scioto and Little Miami rivers, have a close
historical connection with the deeds and lives of the heroic
men who made this day the most glorious in the annals of
When or what white men first beheld this magnificent
scenery before us, or trod upon this soil, we may never cer-
tainly know. They may have been French voyageurs, or
captives of the red men, who, far away from friends and
home, were tortured to death, and had no opportunity to
tell what they had seen ; or perhaps the fearless traders from
Pennsylvania or Virginia may have seen it in their annual
visits to the savages for the purpose of traffic.
Be this as it may, the colonists of Virginia and Pennsyl-
vania at a very early date had learned by some means or
other, either from traders or the natives, that the Ohio country,
as it was called, was a land of great fertility and of surpassing
natural advantages, creating a great desire to form colonics
or settlements west of the Alleghany mountains. There was,
however, no organized effort to this end until 1748 and 1749,
when a land company was formed by Thomas Lee, President
of the Council of Virginia, Lawrence and Augustine Washing-
ton, elder brothers of George Washington, and John Hanbury,
a wealthy merchant of London. They procured a charter
from the Government of Great Britain, and under that charter
a grant of five hundred thousand acres of land between the
Kanawha and Monongahela rivers, with the privilege of
locating a part of the grant on the north side of the Ohio
The indefinite rumors of the great fertility of the lands
OF THE LITTLE MIAMI VALLEY. 3
north and bordering on the Ohio induced them, before locat-
ing their grant, to employ an agent to explore this territory
as far West as the great Falls, (now Louisville).
For this purpose they selected Christopher Gist, a surveyor,
and an experienced woodsman and hunter, well acquainted
with the Indian character, who resided at the time, on the
Yadkin river in Virginia, near the line of North Carolina,
and who, three years afterward, became so renowned as the
companion of George Washington in his expedition up the
Alleghany river to Venango.
Gist left Virginia on the 31st of October, 1750, crossed
the Ohio at Big Beaver, below Pittsburg, and struck boldly
out through the wilderness, exploring the country until he
reached Muskingum, a town of the Wyandots and Mingos.
There he met George Croghan, a veteran trader from Penn-
sylvania, with whom he traveled north a hundred miles in
February, '51, to Piqua, the residence of the Twigtwees, a
tribe of the Miamis. Returning to the Shawanee village at
mouth of the Scioto, he continued his journey down the
shores of the Ohio, examining with great care the quality
of the land, the number, size and course of the streams. In
his journal he speaks of the two Miamis and of the great
fertility of the soil in their valleys, and that he explored
the Gi 2at Miami in March, 175 1, as far north as Loramie
creek, 47 miles above the now city of Dayton, where the
Piankaskas, another tribe of Miamis, lived.
He was treated with much kindness by the Indians with
whom he had thus far come in contact, but they warned him
not to proceed to the Falls, as there was at that time a party
of warriors hunting in that vicinity — allies of France — who
would take his scalp.
He, however, returned to the mouth of the Miami, thence
west to within fifteen or twenty miles of the Trails, where he
saw unmistakable evidences of the proximity of Indians.
Crossing the Ohio, he went up the Kentucky river as far
as Blue Stone, spending some six weeks in exploring the
lands on either side of that river ; thence home across the
4 REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY DAYS
now State of Kentucky, to Virginia, where he arrived in
May, 1 75 1.
This is the first authentic account we have of the explor-
ation of this region by any white man. Christopher Gist,
therefore, so far as we now know, was the first white man
who ever gazed upon these lovely hills and dales.
On his return he gave a glowing account of the country
along the Ohio, of the great fertility of the soil, of its numer-
ous crystal streams, the magnificence of its forests, of the
grandeur and surpassing beauty of the scenery, mildness of
the climate, abundance of game of every description in its
forests and on its plains, and of the fine quality of the fish
that swarmed in its waters ; closing his report by saying that
"cultivation was all that was necessary to make it a delight-
The Ohio Company, of which Lawrence Washington had
now become the manager, by reason of the death of Mr.
Lee, immediately took the most active measures to establish
colonies and settlements in the great northwest; yet for more
than thirty-seven years after Gist's exploration, not a solitary
white settlement was successfully established within the pres-
ent limits of the State of Ohio, for reasons to which we will
Lawrence Washington desired to establish these settlements
with Germans from Pennsylvania, but here a difficulty arose
which he was not then able to overcome.
The greater part of the Northwest Territory was then claimed
by Virginia, and the established church of that colony was the
Church of England, and settlers on any part of Virginia
Territory would be required to pay parish rates for the
support of the clergy. These Germans were dissenters and
were not willing to pay such rates. Washington sought to
have them exempt from this burden, but without success.
"It has ever been my opinion," said he, "and I hope it ever
will be, that restraints on conscience are cruel in regard to
those on whom they are imposed, and injurious to the
country imposing them."
The company proceeded, however, with active preparation
OF THE LITTLE MIAMI VALLEY. 5
for their grand colonizing scheme, and it is possible that
the difficulties of parish rates may at length have been over-
come, but greater and more insurmountable obstacles were
destined to keep back the tide of emigration from this chosen
land. The crystal streams of the slopes of the Alleghany,
and of the plains of Ohio were yet to be dyed with the blood
of pioneers and traders, ere settlements could be accom-
The French, who then held Canada and the territory west
of the Wabash to the Mississippi, watched with jealous eyes
every movement of the English colonists, and sought by every
means possible to arouse the suspicion and enmity of the
savages against them. They claimed that all the territory
watered by the Mississippi and its branches as far as the
Alleghanies, belonged to the Crown of France by right of
discovery made by Padre Marquette in 1680, when he crossed
from Canada and descended the Mississippi as far south as
the Arkansas River.
On the other hand England claimed that all the lands
between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans belonged to England
by virtue of the discovery of John Cabot, years before the
discovery of Marquette — and furthermore that the six nations
who held the northwest territory as far west as the Mississippi,
by conquest — had sold it to England by a treaty made at
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1744. Each of these nations
knowing now the value of the territory in dispute, began
preparations to maintain their claims and to use every means
possible to gain the natives to their respective interests.
The Indians did not object to trading with their white
brothers, but they objected to them clearing their lands,
destroying their hunting grounds and driving off the game.
The French understood this, and did not attempt to make
settlements on their hunting lands, but simply traded with
The English on the other hand, sought every opportunity
to secure treaties and titles from them, and to establish settle-
ments. It was not long, therefore, before the French, more
6 REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY DAYS
cunning and politic, had nearly all of the Western tribes in
their interest, and suspicious of English encroachments.
Such was the determination of both England and France
to acquire permanent possession of the northwest territory,
that a resort to arms was inevitable.
The forks of the Ohio (Pittsburg,) was the important point
to secure, as the key to the West, and in 1754 a force of men
was sent in advance of the troops organizing in Virginia, to
erect fortifications at that point; but before the army under
Fry and Washington could be made ready and cross the
mountains, the French, in an overwhelming force, came down
the Alleghanys and took possession of the uncompleted
Washington, in that expedition, was compelled to retreat
from the Monongahela, and surrender to the combined forces
of French and Indians, at Fort Necessity, near the Great
Meadows, and not far from Uniontown, Pennsylvania. The
next year, 1755, another army, composed of regulars of the
British army and volunteers, under command of General
Edward Braddock, was organized, and made another expe-
dition against the French and Indians, at Fort Duquesne.
On the 9th of July, 1755, Braddock crossed the Monongahela,
near the mouth of the Youghiogheny, with his splendidly
equipped army, confident, in a few hours, of marching a
conqueror over the ramparts of Fort Duquesne. Never was
an army in better condition or higher spirits than on that fatal
9th of July, as it gayly marched down the Monongahela with
drums beating and flags flying. The morning was calm, clear
and bright; nature was clothed in her richest summer dress;-
the hills and valleys on either side of the river, covered with
a luxuriant growth of grass, interspersed here and there with
flowers of every hue. The feathered choristers poured forth
from every tree their matin songs in sweetest notes of praise
to "Him who letteth not a sparrow fall without His knowl-
The placid waters of the beautiful river flowed gently on
their right, the bright scarlet uniforms contrasting pleasantly
with the rich verdure of nature, and their well polished
OF THE LITTLE MIAMI VALLEY. 7
muskets glistened in the sunlight. The shrill notes of the
fife and the rattle of the drum echoed from hill to hill, and
confidence beamed from the countenances of the troops, as
merrily they marched along beneath the banner of "Old
England." They knew their General was an accomplished
and brave soldier, who had won many a victory on the battle-
fields of Europe.
Alas! They knew not the wily foe they would in a few
hours meet in deadly conflict. Braddock recrossed the river,
was ambuscaded, half his army slain ; and utterly defeated, was
compelled to make an ignominious retreat, himself mortally
wounded. Again were the hopes of the pioneers crushed.
In 1758 another expedition, under Boquet and Washington,
was more successful, and Fort Duquesne was captured. Then,
again, were the eyes of the colonists turned to the West, but
the savages had become so hostile that not a settlement on
the northwest side of the Ohio was made, and so matters re-
mained until the Revolutionary war. England had never
been able to gain a permanent foothold in the territory north-
west of the Ohio. Thousands of pioneers with their families
were butchered or tortured to death by the savages, hundreds
of soldiers had fallen, but to no purpose. They held Fort
Duquesne, then called Fort Pitt, but no further could they
go. There seemed to be a higher power than man, which
said to England, "So far shall thou go, but no farther."
It appeared hard to the sturdy pioneers that a land that
literally flowed with milk and honey should be left to a savage
race who knew not its value for cultivation.
Notwithstanding all the sufferings and death endured by
the pioneers, the hand of Providence could at last be seen in
all this when the colonists struck for independence, and the
English had been prevented from forming settlements west of
Had permanent settlements succeeded in the great North-
west, composed of emigrants loyal to the Crown, Canada on
the north and the English army and navy on the scacoasts,
where would have been the hope of the colonists in their
struggle for independence ? Success would have been
8 REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY DAYS
impossible, and this fair land in all probability would have
been now subject to Great Britain or still inhabited by the
Hard, hard indeed, was the lot of the adventurous pioneers;
but the most skeptical could but acknowledge that He who
controls the destinies of men and nations saw farther than
man, and had determined that in His own good time and way
this should become, as it has, an empire of absolute freedom,
where the clanking chains of slavery should never be heard,
and where beneath the banner of civil and religious liberty,
every man might worship God according to the dictates of his
When the Revolutionary war broke out, the English
changed their tactics with the Indians, and incited them to
hostility against the Americans, furnishing them with arms
and ammunition to murder those who might return to settle
north of the Ohio; and during that long struggle no settle-
ments were formed within the limits of our State.
When the war was over, and the whole of the Northwest
had been ceded to the Confederated States of America by the
treaty of Paris, in 1783, men again began to cast their eyes to
this land of promise; disappointment for a time, however, as
before, was to be their doom.
The Indians appeared more hostile than ever, and disre-
garded every treaty they had made : instigated, as had been
shrewdly suspected, by English emmissaries, who had still
some hope that a Republic would prove to be a failure, and
that they would once more possess our fair heritage. Thus
affairs continued until 1787, when the Indian titles had been
extinguished by the treaties of Fort Stanwix, Fort McKintosh,
and Muskingum, and the ordinance of 1787 had been adopted
by the Congress of the Confederated States.
Virginia had on the 1st of March, 1784, magnanimously
ceded her right and title to the Northwest, insisting upon this
condition only, that contracts made with her Continental
soldiers should be held inviolate, and reserved for their benefit
all the lands on the Ohio, between the Scioto and Little
Miami rivers. Hence, I said, the deeds and the lives of the
OF Tttfi LITTLE MIAMI VALLEY. 9
men who made this the most glorious day in the annals of our
country, had a close historical connection with this valley.
In 1786, a company was organized, called also the Ohio
Company, in Boston, by Generals Putnam and Parsons, and
the Rev. Dr. Cutler, composed principally of revolutionary
soldiers, to purchase territory on the Ohio river. They
selected the mouth of the Muskingum, where they landed on
the 7th of April, 1788, and made the first permanent settle-
ment within the limits of Ohio.
The fertility of the Miami country had been well known
ever since the exploration of Christopher Gist, and many were
the pioneers who longed to settle therein, but were prevented
by the causes already mentioned. Now, as these difficulties
had apparently disappeared, explorers were again seeking it.
Among those who had examined it in 1786 was Captain
Benjamin Stites, of Redstone (Brownsville), Pennsylvania.
He was so pleased with the land in this region that he deter-
mined to make application to Congress for a purchase between
the two Miamis; he could not obtain any east of the Little
Miami, that having been reserved by Virginia as a military
district for her Continental soldiers.
For this purpose he traveled to New York either on foot or
horseback, where Congress was then in session. There he
made the acquaintance of John Cleve Symmes, a member of
Congress from New Jersey, whom he requested to assist him
in making his purchase. After Judge Symmes had heard
Captain Stites' glowing description of the Miami country, he
concluded the purchase had better not be made until he
(Symmes) had seen it.
In 1787 he visited the West and examined the territory
between the two Miamis, and found, like the Queen of Sheba,
that "Lo! the half had not been told him," and immediately
went back and made application in his own name to purchase
two million acres between the two Miamis, and received a
contract for one million acres, which, after being surveyed,
was found to contain less then 600,000. Of this tract he
sold Captain Stites 20,000 acres, as shown by the following
curious contract copied from the Records of Hamilton county.
IO . REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY DAYS
"Whereas, Congress, by the resolutions of the 22d day of
October, 1787, directed the Commission of the Treasury
Board to contract with John C. Symmes for all the lands lying
between the two Miami rivers to a certain line which forms
the north bend thereof, these may certify that if Captain Ben-
jamin Stites shall raise certificates to pay for twenty thousand
acres of the same or any larger quantity, he shall have it at
the price agreed with the Treasury Board, which is five shil-
lings per acre, making payment therefor, and in all things
conforming to the conditions of the contract with the Treasury
Board, and also with the articles or conditions of the sale
and settlement of the land which will be published by John
C. Symmes. On Captain Stites purchasing twenty thousand
acres, or any larger quantity, he shall have the privilege of
appointing one surveyor to assist in running out the country,
so far as the proportion he purchases shall be to the whole-
"This surveyor shall be entitled to receive the same fees for
his services as the other surveyors employed in that survey
shall receive. As soon as credit or time of payment can be
given, agreeable to the contract, Captain Stites shall have the
benefit thereof as all other purchasers shall have, but this is
not till after the two first payments.
[Signed] "John Cleves Symmes.
"New York, 9th of November, 1787."
This was followed by another contract, made at Brunswick,
New Jersey, on December 7th, 1787.
"Captain Benjamin Stites enters ten thousand acres and the
fraction on the Ohio and Little Miami rivers, and is to take in
Mr. John Carpenter as one of his company, to be on line or
sections on the Ohio and Little Miami; from the point, and
ten thousand acres on equal lines and sections at the mill
stream falling into the Ohio between the Little and Great
Miami's — which, when the certificates therefor are paid and the
OF THE LITTLE MIAMI VALLEY. II
Record Book open, shall be recorded to him and to such of
his company as join therefor.
[Signed] "John C. Symmes.
"New Brunswick, 7th of December, 1787."
Then there seems to have been a supplement, without date
"The last ten (10,000) thousand acres is to be taken in the
following manner: Two sections at the mouth of Millcreek,
and the residue to begin four (4) miles from the Ohio up Mill-
creek. Captain Stites takes four (4) sections on the Little
Miami with the fraction adjoining the ten (10,000) thousand
acres where it comes to the Little Miami, and four sections
with the section next above the range of township taken by
Daniel , Esq., on the Little Miami."
On the Sth of February, 1793, Capt. Stites paid in full for
his land, as will appear from the following receipt:
Cincinnati, February the Sth, 1793.
Received of Benjamin Stites, Esq., at different payments,
certificates of debts due by the United States, to the amount
of ten thousand six hundred and fifty-two dollars and twenty-
three one-hundreths of a dollar, in payment for different parts
of the Miami purchase, lying, as may appear by location of
Mr. Stites, ten thousand acres round Columbia, seven sec-
tions on the waters of Millcreek for different people, as will
appear by the Miami records ; and about three or four sec-
tions in the neighborhood of Covalt's station, and in
cash orders and other articles,- to the amount of one
hundred and fifty-eight pounds, eight shillings and eight
pence, for which lands, accommodated to the several loca-
tions, I promise to make a deed in fee simple, so soon as
I am enabled by receiving my deed from the United States.
Attest : Signed,
John S. Gano. John C. Symmes.
12 REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY DAYS
In the summer of 1788, Captain Stites and his party-
launched their broad-horn boat on the waters of the Mononga-
hela, and started on their journey to their future homes at the
mouth of the Little Miami, and arrived in July, at Limestone,
now Maysville, Kentucky.
There he made clapboards for roofs of their cabins, and
drew up an article of agreement (which we have not been able
to find), signed by thirty persons, agreeing to form a settlement
at the mouth of the Little Miami; some of them, however,
backed out, on account of reports circulated, as was said, by
Kentuckians, interested in settlements in that Territory, to the
effect that a large party of hostile Indians were encamped at
the Miami. They started from Limestone on the 16th day of
November, 17S8, and landed below the mouth of the Miami,
on the 1 8th; after taking some precautions to prevent surprise
by the Indians, they proceeded to erect a block-house, in
front of the residence of Athen Stites, Esq., which is probably
the spot where they landed. They began work on the block-
house on the 19th of November, a part of the men standing
guard while the others worked. On the 24th of November
the women and children and their goods were removed
In the first Directory of the city of Cincinnati, published in
October, 1819, the names of the " First Settlers of Columbia"
are given as — "Major Benjamin Stites, James H. Bailey, Heze-
kiah Stites, Daniel Shoemaker, Elijah Stites, Owen Owens,
Jno. S. Gano, three women, a number of small children and
several other persons whose names are forgotten." In a work
published by Robert Clarke, Esq., of Cincinnati in 1872, and
kindly furnished me by that gentleman a short time since, the
following names appear as the names of
"THE EARLY SETTLERS OF COLUMBIA."
James H. Bailey, Zephu Ball, Jonas Ball, James Bowman,
Edward Buxton, W. Coleman, Benjamin Davis, David Davis,
Owen Davis, Samuel Davis, Francis Dunlavy, Hugh Dunn,
Isaac Ferris, John Ferris, James Flinn, Gabriel Foster, Luke
OF THE LITTLE MIAMI VALLEY. 1 3
Foster, John S. Gano, Newell, John Phillips, Jonathan Pit-
man, Benjamin F. Randolph, James Seward, William Goforth,v-
Daniel Griffin, Joseph Grove, John Hardin, Cornelius Hurley,
David Jennings, Henry Jennings, Levi Jennings, Ezekiel Lar-
ned, John McCullough, John Manning, James Mathews, Aaron
Mercer, Elijah Mills, Ichabod Miller, Patrick Moore, William
Moore, John Morris, Benjamin Stitcs, Thomas C. Wade,
John Web, Wickerham.
Some of these, no doubt, made up the number of those who
came down with Captain Stites. They found no Indians
on their arrival. There was, however, an encampment of
Indians some six miles back from the Ohio river, who soon
discovered the boats of Captain Stites. They had with them
a white man called "George," who had been taken prisoner
twelve years before, when a boy. They sent "George" near
the block-house, to have a talk with their white brothers. He
called in English to some men at work, but they, supposing
him to be one of their own party, gave him a rough answer,
when he and the Indians with him fled to their encampment.
In a few days afterward, several engineers went out hunting,
and when some distance from the block-house, a party of
Indians on horseback discovered their trail, and soon came up
with them. The engineers thought they were hostile, and
prepared for defense. John Hamson and Mr. Cox leveled
their guns at them, when one of the Indians trailed his gun,
took off his cap and extended his hand in a friendly manner,
"George" telling Hamson not to shoot, they were friendly,
and wanted to be taken to the block-house. Becoming satis
fied that they had no hostile intentions, they took them to the
block-house, and the whites and Indians soon became very
friendly, the hunters lodging frequently in their camps when
out hunting, and the Indians spending days and nights in
the block-house and cabins of the settlers ,with their
squaws and pappooses, regaling themselves on "old Mononga-
Soon after Captain Stites had commenced his settlements,
ten or twelve soldiers of the regular army came down from
Limestone, and erected another block-house below that built
14 REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY DAYS
by the settlers, said to have been near or between the toll-gate
on the California Pike and the river.
Captain Stites sent messengers to John Cleves Symmes, then
at Limestone, informing him that the reports of the hostility of
the Indians were false ; Judge Symmes then determined to begin
his settlements, at the mouth of the Great Miami, and sent a
party forward early in January, 17S9, with stock and pro-
visions. They landed at Columbia, where their boats were
crushed by the ice, and nearly all of their stock and provisions
were lost. The river rose, during that month, to an unusual
height, and covered the Miami bottoms, leaving but one cabin
above the water. The soldiers had to climb to the top of the
block-house, and escape to the high ground in a boat, which
they had fortunately preserved from being crushed by the ice.
Judge Symmes left Limestone on the 29th of January,
1789, with his family, for the mouth of the Great Miami; but
on his arrival at Losantiville, as Cincinnati was then called, he
learned that the site for his great city was many feet under
water. He then began the settlement of North Bend early
in February. The two chosen spots for great cities at the
mouths of the two Miamis being both under water, gave
Losantiville a great advantage, and was the cause, no doubt,
of it being finally chosen as the best location for a large city.
It is said, however, another cause had a greater influence in
Judge Symmes had prevailed upon the Government to send
him troops to protect his settlement at North Bend, where a
fort was to be built by the officer commanding. There was
a beautiful woman, the wife of one of the pioneers, to whom
the officer in command (Ensign Luce), it seems, became very
attentive, so much so that the husband thought it but right
to leave North Bend and move up to Losantiville. The
officer began at once to doubt the propriety of erecting a
fort at North Bend. Symmes insisted that it should be built
there. The officer finally agreed that he would not posi-
tively decide until he had carefully examined the matter,
and went up to Losantiville prospecting, and immediately
began the erection of a block-house. The troops were taken
OF THE LITTLE MIAMI VALLEY. 1 5
there, and the settlers deeming it safer to be where they could
be protected from Indians, who had already murdered several,
began to move toward the neighborhood of the block-house,
■ THE PIONEERS OF THE LITTLE MIAMI VALLEY .
Met with their first misfortune in the flood of January, 1789,
losing much of their property, which could not be replaced.
All of their cabins were under water but one. They had com-
menced their settlement in the fall, and had to wait until the
next year before a crop could be raised, and were compelled
to depend on the meagre supplies to be obtained from an occa-
sional boat from the Monongahela or Upper Ohio, or what
could be brought from the neighborhood of Lexington on
pack-horses ; in either case, that little was obtained at enor-
mous prices, and most of them having spent their means in
paying for their lands and moving their families, were too poor
to buy at any price. The most favorably situated had great
difficulty in providing for their families. There was plenty
of wild game, but no corn or salt, and other necessaries of life.
In the spring and summer of 1789, the women and children
dug up roots, while the men worked, for the subsistence of
their families, frequently going up as far as Turkey Bottom
to procure the root of the bear-grass, which, being dried, was
pounded as fine as possible and used as a substitute for bread ;
and this often at the peril of their lives, or of being captured
by Indians, who very soon became troublesome.
To add to the distress of the organized communities of
settlers, many adventurers had come out voluntarily, with
the expectation of receiving land gratuitously, which they
could immediately begin to cultivate for the subsistence of
their families ; but they found to go into the wilderness any
distance from the block-houses or stations, was exposing them-
selves and families to almost certain destruction.
To remain in the settlements, starvation stared them in the
■■ice. Their only hope was for a number to join and erect
strong block-houses, in which their families and goods could
l6 REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY DAYS
be protected. This plan was adopted, and several stations
were established in the neighborhood of Columbia, Cincin-
nati and North Bend. Garrard station, where Major Stitcs
and Capt. Flinn had a severe battle with the Indians, was
just below here, on the Colonel Taylor farm, now cultivated
by my good friend Mart. Hess. Covalt's was above on Round
Bottom, Dunlap's at Colerain, White's at Carthage, Ludlow
at the place near St. Bernard, now known as Ludlow station,
on the Marietta Railroad. There was also one at Mont-
gomery, and a block-house on Walnut Hills, built by the
Reverend James Kemper. From these block-houses the
men would sally forth in the morning; some would work at
clearing the land, while others would stand guard or scout
in the neighborhood to prevent surprise by the Indians. At
night all would retire within, taking their property, tools and
implements with them. Notwithstanding all these precau-
tions many were killed and captured, almost beneath the walls
of the block-houses.
The Indians, through bad treatment of renegade trader's,
had become irritated, and they looked upon the vJBfites as
one family, and what one did, all were responsible for. They
retaliated, first by stealing horses; and, in 1789, a party of
Shawnees, on their return from a visit to Judge Symmes'.
stole some horses from Columbia. The pioneers soon fol-
lowed on their trail, and Captain Flinn went in advance as
a scout, but was captured and taken to the Indian camp.
Suspecting from their movements going on about him that
personal violence was intended, he suddenly sprang from their
midst and made his escape to his- friends. They captured
some of the Indian horses, and returned to Columbia safely.
In a few days the Indians came to Columbia, and brought
Captain Flinn's gun, and begged Captain Stites to let them
have their horses, declaring that they were not the horse
thieves. After some further parleying, he gave them the
horses, and all was amicably settled.
But their troubles were not to end with the loss of horses
or other articles stolen. . ,'
Soon after the settlement at Columbia, Turkey Bottom,
OF THE LITTLE MIAMI VALLEY. \J
in sight of where we now meet, was leased by Captain Stites
to several of the settlers. It had been an Indian clearing and
planted in corn, as had been the bottom at the mouth of the
river, for a great number of years before the whites arrived,
and, as I understand, has been annually cultivated in corn
ever since, now ninety years, and still produces extraordinary
It is related that in 1 790 Judge Wm. Goforth raised from a
field which had been cultivated by the Indians, 963 bushels oi
corn from nine acres, and Captain Benjamin Davis 114
bushels from one acre.
Among the lessees of Turkey Bottom was James Seward,
who occupied one of the lots into which the bottom was
divided. His dwelling was on the side of the hill at Colum-
bia, and a path of nearly two miles led to the bottom. Near
this path Abel Cook had felled a large hickory tree for the
Two of Seward's sons, Obadiah and John, one about
twenty-one, the other fifteen, attended to the cultivation of
the field. On the afternoon of, the 20th of September, 1789,
on their way to their cleaving, and just as they leaped over
the hickory tree, two Indians sprang on them from the tree-
top. The boys were unarmed, np danger being apprehended
from the Indians then. Obadiah at once surrendered and was
fastened with twigs, but John, with a desperate effort, made for
home. The Indian on his side of the tree gained on him, and
when within striking distance, hurled his tomahawk at him,
cleaving his skull behind the ear, and as soon as he was over-
taken, he was again struck in the head, scalped, and left for
dead, part of his brains oozing from his wounds; but he was
found by his neighbors and lifted on the back of John Claw-
son, and carried home, where he lived thirty-nine days.
Obadiah was held as a captive for some time, when the
Indians became tired of him and some others, they deter-
mined to take them to Pittsburg to be ransomed. On their
way, Obadiah was driving some horses when he accidentally
took the wrong road, at which an Indian, under the influence
of liquor, became angry, fired at, and killed him. His head
1 8 REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY DAYS
was cut off, with some of the skin of the breast adhering, and
stuck upon a stake, which was driven along the side of the
road. A hired man, topping and blading corn for John
Phillips, had been captured in the same month the Sewards
were attacked, and was with the party on the way to Pitts-
burg when young Seward was killed, and on his return to
Columbia gave the first information of him since his capture.
Soon after this Mr. Newal and another man were killed at
Round Bottom while hewing logs in front of their cabins.
Indians would frequently attack the stations, which were
defended heroically by the pioneers. One of these attacks
will suffice to show the danger that constantly threatened
them, even in the block-houses.
In the Winter of 1790-1, three hundred Indian warriors,
led by the notorious renegade, Simon Girty, appeared before
Colerain station, at that time occupied by fourteen (14)
United States soldiers, under Colonel Kingsbury. On the
5th of January a surveyor named Sloan, with his party, were
out surveying, when they were attacked by Indians; one of
his men was killed, Abner Hunt was captured, and Sloan
himself wounded, but escaped with John Wallace to Cole-
rain. On the Monday following, Girt)- sent Hunt near the
block-house to demand its surrrender. This was refused, and
the attack was immediately made, but the little garrison
nobly resisted the assaults of the foe. A parley was asked
for and the surrender again demanded, with the threat that
they would take vengeance on the prisoner Hunt if refused.
Girty said, "They had five hundred warriors, and ail the
roads to Fort Washington were guarded."
Kingsbury replied that, " if they were five hundred devils,
he would not surrender the fort."
They continued the attack until midnight, when they pro-
ceeded to carry out their threat on poor Hunt, throwing him
upon his back, stripped naked, extending his limbs, fasten-
ing them to stakes in the ground, they built fires upon and
hacked his body, and tore off his scalp. All night these
horrid tortures continued, and the screams of the prisoner
could be heard by those in the station.
OF THE LITTLE MIAMI VALLEY. 1 9
During all the siege they had not a drop of water, and the
only provisions were a few handfuls of parched corn, distrib-
uted from time to time, by some girls named Sarah Hahn,
her sister Salone, Rebecca Crum, and another named Birket.
On the 7th of July, 1792, Oliver M. Spencer, then a lad
of thirteen years of age, in company with Jacob Light, Mr.
Clayton and Mrs. Coleman, and a drunken soldier, started
from Fort Washington in a canoe, but, as the boat was not
large enough for such a load, young Spencer thought he
would walk along the shore, and when just above the James-
town Ferry, in the First Ward, they were attacked by two
Indians, concealed in the willows on the bank. Clayton was
killed and scalped. Light was wounded and fell into the
river, but managed to swim out of the reach of the savages.
Mrs. Coleman jumped into the river and floated more than
a mile, when she was rescued, her clothes bearing her up in
the water. Young Spencer was captured and taken to their
towns on the Maumee, and remained a captive eight months,
when he was ransomed by his father, at Detroit, for the sum
of one hundred and twenty-five dollars.
From the recital of these sufferings, we can scarcely imagine
how the pioneer fathers and mothers could bear up under
them. Yet they give us but a faint idea of the trials they
After the first year they could, it is true, raise corn suffi-
cient for their own necessities, but there were no mills to
grind it, and it had to be pounded in a wooden mortar, out
of which they made corn bread. The first mill was Wicker-
sham's, near the site of the old mill just below the Union
Colonel Taylor, of Newport, to whom I am under many
obligations for information on the first settlement of this
township, informed me yesterday, that his father crossed the
Ohio river with a colored servant, taking two bags of corn
to that mill in 1792. The mill was constructed by connect-
•ng two boats near together and placing a wheel between
them. The boats were taken to the falls of the Little Miami,
where Turpin's mill since stood, and the wheel was turned by
20 REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY DAYS
the current. While this was a great improvement over the
"hominy block," yet it did little more than crack the corn.
Turpin's mill was not erected until about the year 1805;
the same year the first ferry on the Miami was established at
the "old Columbia road," by Samuel and Joseph Holly.
The sum paid for the lease was $100 in cash and 100 gallons
of whisky; and it is said that whisky was made at the ferry
at that time.
This township, as before stated, was military land on the
continental establishment, and the surveys or patents were
in the following names: Richard Clough Anderson, father
of our highly esteemed fellow-citizen, Larz Anderson, lately
deceased; the survey was number 1,677, 454 acres; John
Anderson, No. 427, 750 acres; John Brown, No. 706, 200
acres; Theo. Bland, No. 620, 1,333^ acres; Robert Blair,
Wm. Cassel, John Demsey, Benj. Gray, John Halfpenny,
Daniel Sahon, No. 535, 1,000 acres; John Crittenden, No.
410, 1,000 acres; Edward Clark, No. 1,679, 400 acres; Joseph
Egglestone, No. 609, 1,000 acres; Jacob Fears, No. 706, James
Figgin, No. 706, James McDonald, No. 706, James Pay ton,
No. 706, 1,000 acres; John Green, Jarnes Giles, No. 535;
Wm. Taylor, No. 637, 1,000 acres; Wm. Moseleye, No.
1,115, 1,000 acres; Robert Morrow, No. 618, 2,000 acres;
John Nancarrows, No. 3,393, 270 acres; Robert Powells, No.
552, 600 acres; John Parke, No. 1,126, 1,000 acres; A. Sin-
gleton, No. 624, 515 acres; "Edward Stevens, No. 1,674,
• 1,000 acres; Frank Taylor, No.. 4,243; Nathaniel Wilson,
No. 2,204, 400 acres; John English', No. 6,532, 250 acres;
• John Hains, No. 3,817, 250 acres; Abram Hites, No. 60S,
1,000 acres; Hites and Robinson, No. 1,618; P. Higgins, No.
3,394, 90 acres; Geo. C. Lights, No. 8,903; Nathaniel Massie,
No. 2,276,600 acres; William Moore, No. 916, 160 acres;
John Mead, No. 1,682, 434 acres ; Joseph Neville, No. 1,680,
200 acres; James Pendleton, No. 1,126, 1,000 acres; Holt
Richardson, No. 500, 1,000 acres; John Steele, No. 536,
6667^ acres; James Taylor. No. 1,581, 555 acres, (father o(
Colonel Taylor, of Newport); Bennet Tompkins, No. 395.
1,666^3 acres; General Washington, No. 1,775, 997 acres.
OF THE LITTLE MIAMI VALLEY. 21
This was not entered by General Washington, because his
claim entitled him to what was called a State line patent, given
to Virginia troops, for services in the French and Indian wars.
It was canceled, and the survey in his name was entered by
Henry Massie, a revolutionary soldier.
Among the first settlers were Philip Turpin, 1795; Mr.
Garrard, Issac Vail, Stephen Davis, Stephen Betts, John
Grimes, the Edwards, Corblys, Debolts, Johnsons, Clarks
Although Anderson Township was not much settled until
after the Indian troubles, which were brought to an end by
General Wayne, in 1794, yet all the first settlers had to suffer
great hardships for many years afterward in common with
other Western pioneers.
The dwellings of the first settlers of the west were cabins,
covered with clapboards, the space between the logs chinked
with stone or wood, and daubed with mud ; the floors of
puncheon, and a ladder in one corner to reach the loft ; few
were able to procure glass for windows, greased paper being
used as a substitute; their furniture of the rudest character;
sugar-troughs their cradles. There are persons still living in
this vicinity who were actually rocked in sugar-troughs.
The clothes which they had brought from the East were
replaced by those made of homespun linsey-woolsey or tow-
linen, and the skins of wild animals; coon and bear-skins,
furnished the men with caps, instead of hats, and moccasins
took the place of shoes. Every house had its spinning-wheel,
and the big wheel on which was spun the flax, the tow and
wool, that were woven into cloths for garments, on the old-
fashioned loom, by the mothers and daughters of that day.
They spun their own yarn then, but it was different from the
yarns we often hear spun in these more prosperous times.
Their clothes were of a color exceedingly unpopular in
Northern States more recently. Their dye-stuff was the
bark of the butternut, and fortunate, indeed, were they who
could procure dye-stuffs of different colors, wherewith to
stripe their cloths.
They did not forget or neglect their religious duties nor
22 REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY DAYS
that other handmaid of civilization and prosperity, the educa-
tion of their children. When they went to the old church at
Columbia — the first built in Hamilton count) 7 — every man
took his rifle, and guards or sentries remained outside, whose
steps were heard as they paced around the house, while those
within were listening to services conducted by the Rev. John
S. Gano, who preached the first Sermon ever heard in this
Miami Valley, at the block-house, soon after it was erected
at Columbia. Schools were taught in the block-houses until
they could build school-houses, and it was safe for the children
to attend them.
The sick were kindly nursed by the neighbors, and when
death entered the cabin of a pioneer, every one possible went
to the funeral, and the corpse was not borne to the grave on.
elliptic springs, in a gilded hearse, at a 2:40 gate, but
reverently carried to the grave on a bier by the pioneers
All their deprivations and inconveniences were borne cheer-
fully, and there was as much and more real happiness in the
rude cabins of the first settlers than can be found in the more
pretentious and palatial residences of the present time. There
was a mutual dependence upon one another which all recog-
nized, and a confidence between neighbors rarely found at the
present time. The)' were ever ready to assist one another,
and had their enjoyments, as well as their hardships.
If a neighbor was sick or short-handed, and his crops needed
harvesting, every one turned out with his sickle and rake to
save it. If a cabin or barn was to be raised, an afternoon was
appointed, and all were invited to the frolic. So with corn-
huskings and quiltings, and wood-choppings; no one thought
of asking pay for such assistance — it was gratuitously and
cheerfully given. Plenty of "Old Monongahela " and a good
supper was always on hand, and at night the young people
gathered in for their share of the fun, the young ladies clad
in their homespun and coarse shoes, and the young men in
hunting-shirts and coon-skin caps, buck-skin breeches and
moccasins; while a darkey perched on a barrel in the corner
of the room tuned his violin, and struck up an old "Old
OF THE LITTLE MIAMI VALLEY. 23
Virginia Reel " that would set all to dancing on the loose
puncheon floor, and as the old song says, they
"Danced all night, till broad day light,
And went home with the girls in the morning."
"Ah!" said an old Pioneer a few years since, after giving
me a description similar to the above, "that was dancing, sure
enough; none of your shams, like they dance now."
As these settlements were composed principally of old
revolutionary soldiers, they never forgot to celebrate the
Fourth of July, but regularly met, with their families, at some
chosen spot, on that day, and heard from some one of their
number the Declaration of Independence read, and the story
of 'the seven years' struggle recounted. On such occasions
the feast was free — a time of jubilee for all — and, while the
young men enjoyed themselves at games, wrestling, shooting
at marks, or foot-racing, the old heroes would talk their battles
over again, while they sipped their whisky punches ; the cele-
bration closing frequently with a frolic or dance at night. At
a later date they had "Independence Ba/ls," as the following
The Honor of Mrs. S
Company is solicited at a Ball, to be held at the Columbian Inn, on
Friday Evening next, at seven o'clock, in commemoration of the Birth-
Francis Carr, | f I. C. Scott,
P. A. Sprigman, y Managers. < T. C. Baker,
N. Longworth, J (W. Irwin. Je
. N. Longworth, J (_"W\ Irwin, Jr.
June 30, 1812.
Such were the lives of the " Pioneer Fathers" and Mothers
of the West. But who so well qualified as these heroes to
subdue the wilderness, and make it blossom as the rose?
The war for independence, in which they had participated,
had left the country almost bankrupt. The currency was
fearfully depreciated. They had spent their fortunes in the
service of their country, with nothing left but their lives,
stout hearts and willing hands. Business of every kind was
24 REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY DAYS
prostrated, commerce had been destroyed, and there were no
manufactories. / They had no other resource to look to for
support than agriculture, and where could they find so favor-
able prospects as in the great Northwest, with its incom-
parably fertile soil. The ordinance of 'S? had made it forever
free. Slavery could never be introduced to compete with
honest white labor. It had provided for the education of
their children. It established "liberty of conscience.'" The
lands belonged to the General Government, for which they
fought, except the reservation of Virginia for their comrades.
They needed no capital but the rifle and the ax. With the
rifle they could defend themselves and procure food, until the
land could be cultivated, and with the ax the mighty forests
could be felled and their cabins built. They had faced the
hardships and dangers of the seven years' war. They had
mingled in the smoke of the contest. They had endured
the frosts and storms of winter, with the earth for their
couch. Cabins, however rude, would be palaces to them.
"They came, they saw, they conquered."
" And where are ye, O fearless men ?
. And where are ye, to-day ?
We call — the hills reply again,
That ye have passed away !" *
Yes! they have passed away. The midnight war whoop of
the ruthless red man disturbs not their peaceful sleep.
" A sacred hand ;
They take their sleep together, while the year
Comes with its early flowers to deck their graves,
And gathers them again as Winter frowns."
Their trials, their sufferings, their labors are over, for they
"have passed away;" but their deeds and the blessings of
their labors live after them. They conquered the savage
hordes that roamed over these lovely hills and vales, and
skimmed the waters of yonder beautiful river with their light
canoes. They possessed the land in peace, and literally
"beat their swords into plow shares, and their spears into
pruning hooks." They transformed a wilderness into a
OF THE LITTLE MIAMI VALLEY. 2$
paradise, and left it to us, my countrymen, a priceless heritage.
May the presen', and future generations ever revere the
memory of the pioneer fathers and mothers of the Miami
"But where, Oh! where are they
Who gave to us this glorious day."
A hundred and two years have passed since that patriot
band christened the day we celebrate — "The Birthday of
American Independence." Death has long since claimed
them as his own.
"The bugle's wild and war-like blast,
Shall muster them no more ;
An army now might thunder past,
And they not heed its roar.
"The starry flag 'neath which they fought
In many a bloody day,
From their old graves shall rouse them not,
For they have passed away."
Never again shall the martial notes of "Old England"
challenge them to the conflict nor the clang of the bugle call
them to battle. No more shall the cannon's deep roar remind
them of Trenton, of Monmouth, or Princeton. Nor shall the
shrill notes of the ear-piercing fife awake their martial souls
to deeds of glory as on the field of Brandywine. No more
shall the long roll of the drum awake them from their slum-
bers to join the serried ranks of their countrymen, as at
Germantown, nor ever more shall their blood be chilled by
wintry blasts, as it was on the bleak hills of Valley Forge.
They have heard -their last revielle on earth. Taps to them
have been sounded. The lights are out. They sleep their
last sleep from which mortal may not wake them. Gray
stones and heaped up earth mark them to future times.
They have passed away, and in their silent tombs they await
that last alarum, when the grave shall give up its dead, and
earth shall be no more.
Until then, through all ages of revolving time, may the
memories and the deeds of those heroic dead live ever green
in the hearts of a grateful people.
History of Cincinnati.
ITS PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE, WITH SKETCHES OF
THE HARDSHIPS AND SUFFERINGS OF THE
PIONEERS OF THE OHIO VALLEY.
BY A. E. JONES.
The work is designed to be a complete History of the City and
Suburbs from the first exploration of' the Territory between the two
Miamis down to the present time, compiled from the most Eeliable
and Authentic sources, Official Documents and Public Journals; with
an account of the development of the Manufacturing, Mercantile and
Industrial interests; Its Educational advantages— Literary and Scien-
tific; and progress in the Arts and Sciences, with descriptions of its
Public Buildings, Charitable Institutions, Places of Amusement and
other attractions; Portraits and short Biographical Sketches of Citizens
prominently identified with its growth and prosperity. Illustrated with
many Cuts and Drawings of the First Houses and Forts erected by the
Pioneer Settlers ; Buildings — Public and Private — notable at the present
time ; together with some Speculations as to its Future Destiny.
The first volume will be ready in September,, and will embrace the
period from the first settlement down to 1830.
SOLD ONLY BY SUBSCRIPTION.